Monday, August 4, 2014

Mammoth Cave

Our family reunion has come and now is only a wonderful memory.  The majority of our family did attend and the weather cooperated for us.  We all were expecting very hot temperatures, but after the first couple of days of the reunion the temperatures dropped to the mid 80s and we were very comfortable the rest of the week.  Strangely, even the camp fire which we had every evening for our devotional time felt good and took the chill out of the air!  And the setting for our reunion was beautiful, which was the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  On the second day of our reunion most of us had an opportunity to take a tour of Mammoth Cave.  The cave, one of about 200 caves, was discovered in 1816.  It was authorized as a national park in 1926.  Several park caves have been shown to be connected, and the cave system extends well beyond the national park boundary.  Caves and sinkholes, which are also found in other parts of our country, are part of a karst topography in which the landscape is shaped by water. 
The tour which many of us took is called the Domes and Dripstones Tour.   Our guide took us down a 280 step staircase- we climbed down through deep pits and narrow openings into larger passageways.  Beneath Mammoth Cave lies the largest cave system in the world.  The full extent of this water-formed labyrinth is still unknown.  Four hundred miles of it has been surveyed, it is believed that 600 miles of it is still undiscovered.  In the museum, which we took time to look at after our tour, I found a description of the cave as a "big but shallow platter of spaghetti".  The passageways run above and below each other, as pictured below.
At the end of our tour of the cave we passed through a very decorative dripstone area, called the Niagara Formation, which is on the second level.  Five major levels have been identified, and the cave becomes wetter the lower it goes.  Water finds its way into the limestone layers through sinkholes and sinking creeks.  Hidden streams in the cave flow into the Green River.
John and I have toured other caves and are well aware of the white-nose fungal disease which is killing off many of the cave bats in our nation.  It has infested the bats of Mammoth Cave, so to make sure that we do not spread it to other caves we had to walk over a "squishy mat" of soap after leaving the cave.

No comments:

Post a Comment